Miles Davis Milestones (1958) Columbia

cl1193-milestones-columbia-frontcover-1800px-upd1510

Selection: Miles

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Joyous music vintage 1958, on the cusp between bop and modal: Miles is cool as ice, a Philly-Joe kick on every beat, Chambers romps infectiously, you can feel the smile on Adderley’s face as his alto soars on the updrafts, Coltrane’s figures twist and dart  with neurotic beauty. Gone are the rigid chord progressions of bop standards. In their place the structure is based simply on alternating  chords as the musical canvas. What matters is what is painted on the canvas, the freedom to be spontaneous and melodically inventive.

Wonderful, more intoxicating than the finest champagne, this record should carry a happiness warning. The prequel to Kind of Blue, the twin of Somethin’ Else. If you don’t own it, get it. If you have a lesser issue, seek out an original. If you have it, don’t waste time reading LJC, go play it. If you are playing it now, good. Feel the smile spreading.

Artists

Miles Davis (t) Cannonball Adderley (as) John Coltrane (ts) Red Garland (p) Paul Chambers (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) recorded at Columbia 30th Street Studios, NYC, February 4 and March 4,1958, engineer: Harold Chapman.

Chronology: only five days after recording Milestones for Columbia, Miles and Adderley went into Van Gelder’s Hackensack studio to record Something Else for Blue Note, apparently under “leader” Adderley to protect Miles Columbia contract.  A year later,  March 2 and April 6, 1959, Miles went into the Columbia Studios to record Kind of Blue. Session dates and artist credits tell a more subtle story than the bare “year” of recording.                 .

1958Launch of the Hula Hoop, over 100 million are sold. Many chiropracters become millionaires overnight. The first transatlantic jet passenger service is launched, but held back awaiting the invention of the return ticket. Sputnik 1 crashes on re-entry, losing forever photos of Pink Floyd on the Dark Side.

Music

The best Davis record, apart from all the others. Coltrane had just come out of detox. Miles, back from Paris, added Cannonball Adderley’s alto to his quintet. Trane’s cubist abstractions and Cannonball’s bluesy lyricism offered him the contrasts that he was looking for, while his rhythm section provided the perfect foil for every tempo.

The problem, musically, was Red Garland. Red was tiring of Miles’ demands to increase the piano’s entrances and exits.  Miles, however, was searching for a way to free himself from the harmonic constraints of the piano. One day Garland got up in middle of a session on“Sid’s Ahead” and left. Problem solved.

This is the significance of the compositions here, such as Miles, in which  the constraining progressions of bop are replaced by a simple harmonic colours, a platform for spontaneous musical invention. Miles had entered the world of modal jazz. This is your entry ticket

Vinyl: Columbia  CL 1193 Six Eye mono Deep Groove

Original issue, released September 2, 1958

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Collector’s Corner

Source: Ebay (US)

Sellers Description: NICE COPY OF THIS JAZZ CLASSIC FROM 55 YEARS AGO!!COVER IS IN VG++ CONDITION WITH LIGHT RINGWEAR AND A FEW OTHER SCUFFS. VINYL IS EXCELLENT WITH LIGHT WEAR BUT NO NOTICEABLE SCRATCHES! THIS IS THE VERY RARE ORIGINAL DEEP GROOVE PRESSING WITH THE “6-EYE” LABELS! MONO PRESSING!! MATRIX NUMBERS IN DEAD WAX: XLP43598-1AB AND XLP43599-1L.

I had this record for several years as a UK pressing, never really played it much. Despite its Fontana provenance, it lacked any serious presence, pressed towards the end of the stamper life may be, or lacklustre re-mastering by Philips, whatever the reason. It took a renewed interest in Miles and an insight into the quality of Columbia original pressings to get excited again. On to Ebay for copies of a six-eye from the US. This one was desirable, to judge by the eighteen bids.

Sorry fellas, must fly. One way ticket.

Postscript: Philips Fontana UK 1st release (1958)

Milestones-Fontana-1958-1000px

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20 thoughts on “Miles Davis Milestones (1958) Columbia

  1. Hi, I own a 1st issue deep groove 6 eye copy without Gillespie credit under Two Bass Hit on A side label.
    The stampers are 1C (A side) and 1F (B side), so it’s a genuine early pressing.

    Could the Gillespie credit have been added a few months later on label?
    Same for the mistake you greatly described for Kind of Blue, it could be interesting checking it by crossing the stampers.

    Dino

  2. Has anyone by any chance heard the remaster of the mono that Legacy did a few years back? It came out on Record Store Day Black Friday in 2013. RTI pressed them for Columbia/Legacy here in the US, Music On Vinyl did them in Europe, don’t know who pressed them.

    Anyway, the story in the liner notes to Miles Mono CD Box that they released at the time (which had the albums “Round About Midnight” to “Miles and Monk at Newport” – all of which were released individually on vinyl), stated that when they listened to the original master tape of Milestones, it sounded off, like the tape machine wasn’t calibrated properly. Luckily, Columbia had a policy of running a backup tape machine for their sessions, and upon checking the backup tape, those problems weren’t present. It’s sort of like the problem with the “Kind Of Blue” master tape, but with deck alignment problems instead of speed (pitch) problems.

    I had a 6 eye copy at one time, and I always wondering why it sounded so dull. Now I know why. Listening to this version from the “new” tape is a revelation. Add to that the great mastering and quality pressing from RTI, you’ll love this album even more. The others in the series sound excellent as well.

  3. Hello,
    Thanks for the interesting posts.
    I have a Japanese pressing of this album from the 1970s which to my ears sounds wonderful, but then I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing an original Columbia pressing.
    Strangely enough, the Japanese copy also has the Miles for Milestones typo, even on the label.

  4. I recently purchased a copy of this great album at a record show. It’s a Columbia 6-eye mono. It sounds pretty good for its age–no popping or clicking or fuzz. The cover’s in pretty good shape, too. But when I sat down to listen to it, I dropped the needle down on track 3, side 2 to give “Straight, No Chaser” a listen (I’m a Monk fan). Instead I got, “Two-Bass Hit,” which is track 3 on side 1. After listening to the entire album, I see that the labels are reversed. The Columbia is XLP 43599-1G and XLP 43598-1AA. Knowing what I know about how Columbia sequenced their cuttings, I am thinking it’s a foul-up at the factory when they were making the record. Has anyone ever heard of something like this about Milestones 6-eyes? How common is it on other records?

  5. LJC is such an entertaining writer, I love reading his write ups. There’s so much interesting stuff in them, and the history is GREAT! I also like the ebay comments.

    I was gonna say I have the same copy, except I pulled it out to see if mine also had that typo on the side 2 label (“Miles” instead of “Milestones”) and it doesn’t–hmmm interesting! Anyway I got it insanely cheap on ebay back in 2007…one of the greatest deals I’ve ever gotten on there.

  6. Best pressing I ever heard of this album is a mono 1967 CBS U.K. pressing, beating the original 6-eye in terms of presence and punch. I have one and it’s got the orange rough-textured CBS label.

    • An orange CBS One Eye reissue beating an original Columbia Six Eye? Have you been at the schnaps again Cristian? Interesting, nothing is impossible.You have a Six Eye for A:B comparison, same system and time of course? A proper Columbia six eye, not the CBS overprint six eye? What Columbia matrix codes? The CBS orange: Mono or Stereo? Any idea where it was pressed? Curious, you may have stumbled on something.

      We may have to settle this one in the playground after school, but I have to warn you, my dad is bigger than your dad.

      • Sir, like gentlemen, I have to ask you to postpone our fight, as I am not at home and have not the necessary means to do a needledrop comparison. Will have to wait one month. All I can say is: CBS, mono of course (there were only fake stereo versions of this until it was remixed to true stereo at the end of the ’90s). Matrix info:
        62308 A2 J1
        62308 B2 J1

        • Two against one, sounds fair to me.

          I’ve been doing a little more forensic research on CBS orange pressings, come up with this pattern among my dozen or so in my collection.

          Whilst there are a few anomalies, and my sample is small, the pattern looks fairly strong. What I don’t know is if the production/copyright year on the label (P-circled and year) actually means anything reliably. That first KoB pressing looks wrong time and place for 1960.

          So what would be helpful is what the matrix looks like on your pressing
          In your own time of course.

          • Nice work LJC – very very interesting… explains why my Milestones – an Oriole pressing, is nothing special when compared to my CD. Armed with this new info I think I shall be restricting my purchases of these Orange CBS labels to record shops rather than ebay.

  7. Funny that they named ‘Milestones’ simply ‘Miles’ on the label.

    I have a Dutch Fontana pressing of this and it sounds great to my ears. LJC, do you have any idea if it’s the same mastering as the UK pressing? The matrix of the Dutch pressing reads: AA 682030 1L=1//420

    • Lander, I have updated the post at the foot with a label/matrix shot of my Fontana UK 1st press: You can check the match with your copy. The mother and stamper codes at 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock are 1 and V, though I am never sure which is which. Interested how your copy lines up.

      • I have a Dutch pressing 682 030 TL which reads:
        side 1: 6C AA 682030 1L=2//6701
        side 2: 6 AA 682030 2L=1//670 18
        A French Fontana 682.030 ML with following matrix:
        side 1: AA 6 8 2 0 3 0 1L D 1380 PPPM1 Made in France
        side 2: AA 682030 2L 380 Made in France
        My 6-eye Columbia has:
        side 1: XLP43598 1C
        side 2: XLP43599 1H
        A good occasion to play the Milestones album. The three sound equally good. My Dutch copy has been played since it was issued, the others are later acquisitions. My 6-eye is from Fred Cohen who rated it N-. The French is in virgin state, came from a huge collection.

      • The matrix of my copy looks exactly the same, so I guess it’s the same mastering for both the UK and Dutch Fontana releases. Although I think that the Fontana pressing sounds really good (and this goes for all Fontana pressings in general), it could be possible that the Columbia 6-eye sounds better. I had the same feeling when I bought a 6-eye of ‘Art Blakey – Drum Suite’, which I previously had as a Dutch Fontana pressing.

  8. A great write-up and a great choice of track. I’m one of those with a late lacklustre repress and consequently have never quite given this the attention it deserves. It’s prominent on the replacement list. How does Adderley sound like that — infectiously, joylessly, effortlessly hip, soaring on the up drafts, as you say, rather than a plump diabetic with more health problems than you could count?

  9. Miles Davis. An album called ‘Milestones’ with a track called ‘Miles’.

    No wonder people found him difficult to work with.

    Guy

    • The track Miles is a typo – should read “Milestones” to be the correct title track of the album. Myself I think it’s more an amusing play with the words Miles and Tones that also can be read like “Milestone” in plural. Very common to play with words in these days on Jazz LPs.
      And yeah Miles was difficult to work with. He psyched out Hank Mobley, argued with Monk and fired Red Garland. BUT there was some great music coming out so I guess I overlook that side of Miles.

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